Leaving A Neuroscience PhD To Build Two Online Businesses

by in Lifestyle on Jun 9th, 2014

My name’s John Accardi. I’m 25 years old and just about 6 months ago, I withdrew from the neuroscience PhD program at Georgetown University. Not only was I on a full scholarship that paid my tuition and lab expenses, but I was receiving a generous stipend as well. So why did I drop out and how did I build 2 profitable online businesses with hardly any startup capital?

Why did I leave Georgetown?

I left for one simple reason: I didn’t like it. In the Neuroscience PhD program, I was required to attend class but the majority of my time was spent doing research at the lab bench. I was working on developing the new technology of optogenetics to treat epilepsy. I’d surgically implant fiber optic cables into the rat brain, in the attempts to alter epileptic neural networks. At times, It was cutting-edge and exciting but mostly it felt limiting. Like most jobs, I had to work for long hours in the same place with the same people, day after day. I also disliked the fact that I needed permission to take any time off, even for something as simple as a doctor’s appointment.

I started to become restless and thought of ways that I could earn a living with a more free lifestyle. I searched for different ways to work for myself and set my own hours. I also wanted the potential to earn more money. After some searching, I became excited about the idea of building an online business. It was so fascinating to me because I knew that an online business could be operated from anywhere in the world. I pictured myself at a condo in Florida, sitting by the pool while managing business from my laptop or phone. Read More

What I’ve Learned From Business Failure

by in Lifestyle on May 8th, 2014

I’m not sure where I first heard the term, “Fail fast and fail often,” but it’s great advice for entrepreneurs. I recently decided to shutdown YakezieNetwork.com after six months of operation because of the following reasons:

1) 99% of affiliate revenue came from one source and I found a streamlined solution.

2) HasOffers was cumbersome to use for reporting purposes. I’m sure part of it has to do with my incompetence. Although I did receive a couple e-mails from other affiliate platforms who moved off HasOffers and onto InfusionSoft.

3) HasOffers isn’t cheap at $279 a month for a startup platform. I asked for a discount, and they said no. I thought they’d throw me a bone just to collect something instead of nothing since all revenue is profit given the software has already been built. But I respect their decision.

4) My partner found a full-time job, which ended up taking up a lot of her time. I was relying on her to manage everything from signing up clients to supporting users to sending out invoices in exchange for a split in revenues. She needed W2 income as she wanted to buy a house. Going through the mortgage process myself, I completely empathize with her as one needs at least two years of entrepreneurial income in order for banks to consider your income real for a loan nowadays.

5) Accounts payable and financial tracking is not something I enjoy. The bigger YakezieNetwork.com got, the more bookkeeping I’d have to do, which started making me unhappy. The obvious solution is to just hire someone to do it for me, but I decided to just minimize the business instead. Once you’ve tasted a lot of freedom from work, it’s more difficult that normal to get back into doing things that are necessary, but painful.  Read More

The Beauty Of Operational Leverage In Running A Business

by in Lifestyle on Dec 9th, 2013

I recently finished up my annual business offsite in Oahu and I wanted to highlight one thing everyone in the blogging business should do once a year.

Calculate your year over year top line revenue growth and compare that figure to your year over year operating profit figure. If you have been growing, hopefully you should see a much bigger operating profit growth rate than your revenue growth rate. This is what we call Operational Leverage in finance.

The internet business is my favorite business because the world is our potential demand curve and our costs are largely fixed. If we are able to grow revenue, more and more of our bottom line profits flows into our pockets as a result. It only costs ~$20 a year to own your domain, $20-$250 a month for web hosting, and $100 – $3,000 a year for maintenance and design work. After that, all other expenses are discretionary.

To give you a simple analogy let’s look at property. If your property is in an upcycle as we are now, every 1% increase in your property price is like a 5% increase in your overall equity if you put 20% down. Property is my absolute favorite asset class to build wealth in an upcycle. In a downcycle, property is a terrible investment and you shift your mindset from being an investor to being an inhabitant. Hopefully everybody has a decent portion of their net worth in risk-free investments to play defense when bad times return.


Don’t Confuse Being A Freelancer With Being A Blogger And Vice Versa

by in Lifestyle on Aug 5th, 2013

The terms “blogger” and “freelancer” are often used interchangeably to describe ourselves, but it’s important to differentiate between the two to minimize disappointment and maximize profitability. One can certainly be a blogger with a freelance business or a freelancer with a blog. However, to do one successfully requires a different skillset.

I’m a blogger first with some services I offer to anybody or any business looking to develop a presence online or seek help with their personal finances. However, such services are not my main focus as I limit my clientele to four a month maximum. The reason why I limit my consulting is because I mainly want to write, which is my joy. If I wanted to work, I wouldn’t have retired!

Whether my writing makes money or not is secondary to being able to share some thoughts and interact with the community. It’s always going to be this way. The thrill of getting picked up by some major media organization or doing an interview on a public radio station is addicting. So is learning about different perspectives from readers all around.

As it turns out Financial Samurai generates enough income to eat ramen noodles in San Francisco. But again, this is a side product because I’m currently living off my passive income streams in CD interest, dividends, and rental income. Everything generated from my blog is a bonus.

Despite four years of blogging, I’m still struggling immensely with selling a product or myself. I just don’t enjoy the process of trying to make money from readers and am seriously considering outsourcing the work to a freelancer.


The Emotional Side Of Starting A Business

by in Lifestyle on Jul 29th, 2013

I don’t consider myself a serial entrepreneur, but over the past few years, I’ve tried starting a few websites as attempts to build side businesses apart from my personal finance blog. Most flamed out before opening up to real business, but instead of focusing on the problems of each business plan, I’d rather focus on the emotional side of starting a business.

Right now I am in the process of launching a new side business: a carnival submission service. I’m not the first person to offer this service, but I am very confident that the service I am offering is the best.

However, offering the best service is just a small part of the equation and I’m well aware of that. I have teamed up with another friend/blogger, David from Financial Nerd (he’s also a programming nerd) to make this a reality. We plan on blowing away the competition (other blogger friends, so hopefully it will be a friendly competition) by submitting to a much wider range of carnivals than what’s currently out there, offering more options, and doing it all at a fantastic price. Eventually, we plan on casting a wider net and targeting non-personal finance blogs, too.

Launching a business is scary, though. There are plenty of things that could go wrong, including technical issues. Everyone has experienced technical issues, whether with a presentation at work or with their blog being attacked. However, there are several things that scare me about this specific launch that has nothing to do with the service working (which it does, I’ve tested it plenty).

What Makes Me Worry About Launching Read More

How To Make Money Quitting Your Job
  • Barbara Friedberg: Hi Sam, I really enjoyed your encouraging article. Personally, two of the greatest opportunities...
  • Financial Samurai: Good luck on the new adventure! No better way to learn than to actually do, screw up, learn, and...
  • Financial Samurai: Don’t be scared Eric! There is so much opportunity out there, with decent pay nowadays.
  • Untemplater: Lots of opportunity out there, that’s for sure. Blogging has certainly taught me a lot of skills I...
  • Eric - PersonalProfitability.com: Great post Sam. I’ve toyed with the idea of moving from finance to a digital...
  • LaTisha @YoungFinances: Welcome! I can definitely relate to the student debt issue and graduating into a rough...
  • Financial Samurai: Right on Derek. I’m not sure many bloggers who’ve been around know their worth or true...
  • Derek@LifeAndMyFinances: When I saw this article come through, I absolutely loved it and read it in its entirety on...
  • Barbara Friedberg: Hi Will, Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this important issue. That is exactly why I...
  • Financial Samurai: Sharing an e-mail from Jacob: Although we probably can’t afford $200,000 a year for a...

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